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Studying Seabirds on St. Lazaria Island, photo by Nora Rojek, USFWSWe study marine birds that could point to changes in the marine environment and signal conservation problems.

Long-term, Time-series Data
Our monitoring program provides long-term, time-series data. When the data reveal biologically-significant changes, scientists can test hypotheses about the causes of those changes.

Defining "Normal"
The monitoring program is an integral part of the management of the Alaska Maritime Refuge. The information it provides is used to define "normal" variability in demographic parameters and identify patterns that fall outside norms, thereby signaling conservation issues.

Strategy for Data Collection
The strategy for colony monitoring includes estimating timing of nesting events, reproductive success, population trends, and prey used by representative species of various foraging guilds (e.g., murres are offshore diving fish-feeders, kittiwakes are offshore surface-feeding fish-feeders, auklets are diving plankton-feeders, etc.) at geographically dispersed breeding sites along the entire coastline of Alaska.

Monitoring Sites
A total of 10 sites on Alaska Maritime Refuge located roughly 300 to 500 km apart, are scheduled for annual surveys, and at least some data is available from all of these in most years. In addition, colonies near the annual sites are identified for less frequent surveys to "calibrate" the information gathered at the annual sites. Data provided from other research projects (e.g., those associated with evaluating the impacts of oil spills on marine birds) also supplement the monitoring database.

Annual Monitoring Field Stations
(from north to south around the coast)
Cape Lisburne
St. Paul
St. George
Kasatochi - No annual monitoring since the volcanic eruption of 2008. 
E. Amatuli
St. Lazaria



Examples of Target Species for Seabird Monitoring

 Feeding Method       Diet Feed Nearshore Feed Offshore
Surface Fish-eating Gull Kittiwake
  Plankton-eating                 Fork-tailed storm-petrel              Leach’s storm-petrel
Diving Fish-eating Guillemots Murres
  Plankton-eating Whiskered auklets Least auklets

Seabirds as Indicator Species

– parameters –
population trends
reproductive success
timing of nesting events
chick growth rate
adult survival
prey used by species of various foraging guilds
geographically dispersed breeding sites

Time-series Monitoring Data

1 - Archived in the Pacific Seabird Monitoring Database
2 - Summary present in annual report


Recent Publications and Reports



Last Updated: Apr 04, 2016
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